BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — A hiker injured her lower leg on a Baxter State Park trail on Wednesday, and a Maine Forest Service helicopter conducted a “short-haul” rescue that carried the woman to an extraction point four miles from the trail.
Park director Jensen Bissell said the woman, a 53-year-old Maine resident, had been hiking a 5.5-mile spur on the Wassataquoik Stream Trail. She and her hiking companion were heading to the Wassataquoik lean-to and had progressed about 4 miles from the Roaring Brook Campground trailhead when she was injured.
Bissell said the hiking companion sought help, and park rangers were notified about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The rangers then went to the scene, arriving between 4:30 and 5 p.m., to assess the hiker.
“They confirmed that she was not ambulatory,” Bissell said. “We had a litter carry assembled [to potentially carry the hiker off the trail], but we also had a willing short-haul rescue from the Maine Forest Service [available].”
The Maine Forest Service helicopter, flown by ranger pilot Chris Blackie, was stationed in Old Town and flew to Baxter State Park to assist.
Bissell said carrying the woman off the trail on a litter would likely have taken until midnight. Blackie was able to lift the woman in a sling and transport her 4 miles to an open area where the helicopter could land and meet other emergency personnel.
With warmer summer weather just arriving, Bissell reiterated the park’s safety message.
“We always tell people to remember park trails are often rough, rocky, rooty and steep,” he said.